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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I want to agree, but am concerned about what words like "make" and "love telling the public about it" mean. For both volunteers and customers, there's an element of leading the horse to water - and being too forward can actually deter. The question, I suggest, is how to convey the heritage in a way that lifts the visit beyond "a steam train ride" and gives a lead in to someone who might then want to follow up more.
     
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  2. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Most people if they feel pride in something will be happy to tell others about it. I am unsure that it is necessary to make everyone a storey teller though, at least not in the sense of reaching out to the general public as they pass.

    Most important though is that everyone should feel pride in and be clear about all the ways in which "public good" is being delivered. Yes history is part of it, both in terms of the history of the railway and of the preserved railway, and also to be able to talk about how what we see today is not always faithful to the past and why. Of equal importance though (if not more so) is to be able to take pride in and share the positive impact on the local bird of prey population (for example).
     
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  3. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The last few posts stress publicising that the railway is a "Good Thing" (in various respects). All very well, but how does that translate into motivating Joe Public to come and spend money?
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think it’s indirect - the atmosphere permeates, and spreads out through things like Tripadvisor, people’s social media etc.

    It’s often clear as a visitor when you go somewhere and you feel a general happiness, or a general grumpiness. I’d interpret the comments about volunteers loving the place isn’t to say that even the most soot-stained loco cleaner needs to refocus on accosting visitors and saying how wonderful things are; but that if you put in place the conditions where volunteers are generally positive about what they are doing, that will inevitably permeate through into an overall positive perception of the railway, which will be picked up on by visitors.

    Tom
     
  5. Cuckoo Line

    Cuckoo Line New Member

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    I was thinking more from experience as a visitor. I,ve found on Bulebell , KESR , SVR for example the volunteers happy to talk about the railway, history, what they,re doing etc without being overbearing to those who show interest, compared to one or two nameless railways where it almost seemed if youbhad to put up with visitors but it is really our railway and you are an outsider.
     
  6. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't in and of itself. There is no single bullet. There isn't even one answer for a given railway.

    So...take the holiday area railway....the trick is to grab the attention of the transient population which means lots of local advertising to drive awareness. Useful things might be search engine ads that link to people searching for things to do near....

    Take a non holiday area railway.... The focus is likely to be running a range of events that appeal to different demographics and then cross selling / encouraging repeat visits. Local advertising is important and radio is probably best most effective.

    Note the services and period of operations needed are different. What works for one doesn't for others.
     
  7. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    The last three paragraphs are important here. Particularly in the case of "seaside" railways, the target audiences maybe, or are different at different times of the year. There's no point running gala events in the peak holiday season, for example, if the trains are busy enough anyway, they are best kept for the shoulder s of the main season. A railway that is in an inland zone without the seasonal influx of visitors may well do better running a year-round programme.
     
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  8. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    The most revenue and profit always comes from family oriented events or services.

    Families will have a range of interests. Also young families need something different to those with older children. Sometimes the same basic services can meet both needs, but this tends to be the holiday area railway.

    It is important to keep reaching as wide a range of interests and demographics wherever you are. It is essential if you're not in an holiday area.

    Enthusiast Galas in general are a poor return for the management time and effort if measured in financial terms. They frequently make sense only when the joy of volunteers and the potential to seed future legacies or giving from enthusiasts is taken into account. The latter is really difficult to track though, anday have nothing to do with galas. Either way a gala is not a solution to the profit problem .
     
  9. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    The easiest railway in the world, for me to sell a trip on to my wife and 2YO daughter, is the South Devon. They'll put up with the steam ride given the availability of butterflies and otters at one end, and the rare breeds farm at the other. And the all-in ticket. It's a fixture of our summer holiday every year. Interestingly much more so than the Paignton and Dartmouth, which has lovely views, but is a 'rainy day' option. The SDR is a must for us.

    The second easiest sell is Didcot, because of the variety of things to look at, on one self-contained site.
     
  10. WesternRegionHampshireman

    WesternRegionHampshireman Member

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    Damn right!
    Although, what actually is the solution?
    Guess it will just be one of life's big mysteries.
     
  11. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    Back in the early Ellerton days the Fairbourne Railway had a tropical butterfly attraction. It was a very popular add-on with the public and people still ask about it nearly 40 years after it closed, but it was, nevertheless a financial disaster as it was very expensive to run, mostly down to poor design I think. A new version, designed with extensive provision of solar panels and other forms of alternative heating could be a lot more viable.
     
  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Do we know what sort of finite life is estimated to remain to Penrhyn Point and Fairbourne according to current projections for seal level rise?
     
  13. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Maybe some sort of aquarium would be a better long term option then?
     
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  14. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Seal level rise , a new measurement to make inundation of low lying area's more palatable !
     
  15. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but would you charge £96K?
    As I said before, it seems extremely unlikely that that £96K was more than made back by the extra revenue generated by those coaches and that the whole exercise made anything other than a loss. It is also suspicious that those who would have had the reddest faces if the railway had not run to Minehead last year appear also to be those who were benefiting from the decision to bustitute this part of the service.
     
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  16. Hampshire Unit

    Hampshire Unit Well-Known Member Friend

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    Interesting, as a family we regularly visited Fairbourne through from about 1970 to 1982, don't remember a butterfly house!
     
  17. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Stayed in Barmouth 72/73. Maybe saw you on the FR train, or a bit further south at Towyn (as it still was back then)! :)
     
  18. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Maybe they could borrow some Walruses from the Southern?
     
  19. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    We don't, nbut the problem seems to have been overstated What will increase is the risk of flooding at the highest tides under certain conditions of wind. AIUI, the biggest problem is that of groundwater building up on the inland side of the flood defences.


    Not surprising as John Ellerton didn't take over till 1984, so the Butterfly Safari came later.
     
  20. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    There is no solution. At least not a single one. Better fundraising, wider range of outcomes to drive wider range of grant availablity, attracting more visitors by creating something people want to visit and want to tell all their friends about.
     

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